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Medical equipment chirps and hums in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. These machines are used to monitor patients’ vital signs, look for signs of disease in the body, and help provide therapy. Biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) ensure that these machines are always in order and repair any parts that may be damaged.
Biomedical equipment technicians are also known as medical equipment repairers. These professionals are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing patient care equipment. Depending on the experience level and training acquired by the technician, they may be responsible for dealing with simple devices such as electric wheelchairs or machines as complicated as CT scanners. From installation to regular maintenance of machines, biomedical equipment technicians handle equipment at every stage.
Biomedical equipment technicians are responsible for all aspects of the installation and maintenance of biomedical equipment. They are involved in maintaining, calibrating, adjusting, and repairing many different types of equipment. Generally, BMETs can be found working in hospitals, other health care facilities, or private practice offices. Occasionally, BMETs are employed by medical and military instrument manufacturers.
The majority of a biomedical equipment technician’s job involves repairing and installing biomedical equipment. Other responsibilities may include performing safety checks, ordering parts, and carrying out maintenance activities. They may also be required to demonstrate how to operate different machines to nurses, physicians, and other healthcare staff.
Specializations & Degree Types
Biomedical equipment technicians ensure that the equipment used in medical facilities functions properly. They may specialize in specific types of equipment, or work with various types or machines. Depending on their skills and training, they may be involved in installing and testing new biomedical equipment and repairing damaged machines. When working with new equipment, they may also have to train other laboratory technicians on its use and calibration.
Here are some of the areas that a biomedical equipment technician may specialize in:
- Diagnostic imaging
- Physiological monitoring
- Electron microscope
- Cardiac diagnostics
- Gas therapy equipment
- Surgical instruments
Admissions Requirements to Biomedical Equipment Tech Programs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) states that most biomedical equipment technicians need to have at least an associate degree (AAS, AS) in biomedical equipment technology to begin a career in the field. Depending on the technician’s area of specialization—and especially if they wish to access opportunities for advancement—a bachelor’s degree may be required. While earning a certification is not necessary, it does demonstrate professional competence and might improve job prospects.
Admission requirements for an associate degree include a completed online application, competency test scores, and proof of high school graduation, among others.
In order to apply for a bachelor’s degree, students must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, ACT or SAT examination scores (for some colleges), a completed application, and proof of English proficiency for students whose native language is not English.
To qualify for certification, students must demonstrate experience in the field, usually by completing a degree program or by earning experience through full-time BMET work. Technicians must also pass an exam.
Biomedical Equipment Tech Program Accreditation
Accreditation is a process whereby universities are reviewed to determine if their programs meet certain standards of quality. Students must look for accreditation, as it helps gauge if a program will help them develop relevant skills and knowledge.
When looking into BMET programs, aspiring biomedical equipment technicians can look for accreditation by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. Many programs in biomedical engineering technology are accredited by ABET, and accreditation from this organization signifies a commitment to provide quality education and prepare competent future professionals.
Overall, students should ensure that their school or program’s accreditation entity has been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
On-Campus Degree Programs in Biomedical Technology
Cuyahoga Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in electrical/electronic engineering technology. The program offers a concentration in biomedical engineering technology. Students develop skills such as performing safety checks, maintenance, repairs, and calibration of different types of devices. The coursework also prepares students to sit for the Biomedical Equipment Technician Exam.
The program’s admission requirements include a completed application, a high school diploma or GED, official transcript, and completion English and math prerequisite work (or passing scores on competency exams).
The program comprises 65 credit-hours. Coursework includes instruction on direct current circuits, surface mount soldering, technology orientation, AC electric circuits, digital fundamentals, biomedical instrumentation, and a biomedical design project.
Students get a thorough overview of all aspects of medical equipment handling, service, and support. They are trained to develop an action plan for correcting medical equipment, communicating effectively, working independently and as a member of a diverse team, and using organizational skills for time management, scheduling, and resource allocation.
Graduates of the program can pursue opportunities in hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, or third-party service organizations associated with hospitals.
- Location: Cleveland, Ohio
- Accreditation: Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
- Estimated Tuition: $271.19 per credit-hour
Devry University offers a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering technology. Devry students in this program how to build, design, and maintain systems and medical devices. These include MRI machines, patient monitoring devices, CAT scanners, surgical devices, and prosthetics.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, completed application, ACT or SAT examination scores, transcripts, and proof of English proficiency for international students.
Made up of 141 credit-hours, the program provides students with a primer on quality testing and troubleshooting issues for common pieces of equipment. Courses include an introduction to engineering technology and information sciences, product development, and laboratory courses in biomedical equipment and instrumentation, medical imaging technology, and telemedicine and medical informatics.
Students learn how to use tools for designing and implementing data and imaging, analyzing biomedical problems using basic tools and concepts, using microprocessors along with peripheral devices, and developing hardware and software. At the end of the program, graduates are prepared for roles sas biomedical equipment technician, applications engineers, biomedical sales engineers, engineering technicians, and electronics technicians.
- Location: Grove, Illinois
- Accreditation: Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET
- Expected Time to Completion: 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: $609 per credit-hour
Online or Hybrid Degree Programs in Biomedical Technology
The Praxis Institute offers a hybrid associate degree in biomedical technology (medical equipment technology). Due to the hands-on nature of the profession, the program has some laboratory requirements, while some courses are offered online. The program prepares students to seek entry-level jobs in medical equipment technology. It also prepares them to take the Certified Biomedical Technician (CBET) exam by AAMI Credentials Institute (ACI).
Applicants to the program must be high school graduates or have a GED equivalent diploma.
Made up of 63 credit-hours, the program trains students in computer technology and electronics with a focus on operations, procedures, and applications of medical devices. The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to psychology, medical terminology, an introduction to biomedical equipment technology, biomedical equipment instrumentation, solid state electronics, and the fundamentals of electronics.
Students learn how to utilize schematic drawings and wiring diagrams for performing maintenance and repairs on computers and medical equipment, repair devices, perform maintenance activities, and conduct themselves ethically.
At the end of the program, graduates can work in a variety of settings including clinics, hospitals, and laboratories as well as in biomedical companies and equipment manufacturers. Graduates may pursue positions in medical sales, training medical staff, doctors, and managers, or even start their own businesses.
- Location: Miami, Florida
- Accreditation: The Commission for Independent Education
- Expected Time to Completion: 20 to 30 months
- Estimated Tuition: $34,900
Thomas Edison State University offers an online associate in science (AS) degree program with a specialization in electronics engineering technology. The program is ideal for professionals in the electronics industry, such as avionics, computer hardware, and communications.
Admission requirements for the program include a high school degree or its GED equivalent, at least 21 years of age (18 years or older if a member of the United States military), transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, and proof of English proficiency for international students.
The program consists of 60 credit-hours. The curriculum explores topics such as digital electronics, alternating current circuits, direct current circuits, electronic devices, control systems, biomedical electronics, electronic instrumentation, and electrical design and manufacturing.
Students develop skills in analyzing design considerations for electronic amplifiers and power supplies using semiconductor devices; other areas of study include digital electronic fundamentals, including number systems, logic gates, boolean algebra, and logic families circuit design. Students also learn about transmitters, modems, receivers, noise analysis, pulse modulation, information theory, and other signal processing techniques used in commercial broadcasting and data transmission systems.
- Location: Trenton, New Jersey
- Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- Expected Time to Completion: One year or more
- Estimated Tuition: $509 per credit-hour
How Long Does it Take to Become a Biomedical Equipment Technician?
Biomedical equipment technicians maintain and repair medical equipment, such as hospital beds, scanning machines, and patient monitors.
At the very least, aspiring biomedical equipment technicians must have an associate degree in biomedical equipment technology. An associate degree typically takes about two years to complete. Some employers prefer hiring biomed techs with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree can be completed in four years.
How To Become a Biomedical Equipment Technician – Step-by-Step Guide
Biomedical equipment technicians work primarily with medical equipment and are responsible for installation, maintenance, and repair.
To begin a career in the field requires at least an associate degree; however, bachelor’s degrees are preferred by some employers.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to become a biomedical equipment technician:
Step One: Earn an Associate’s Degree (Two Years)
Most employers require or prefer an associate degree (AAS or AS) in biomedical engineering technology. Some of the coursework in this program might include biomedical electronics, circuit math, clinical rotations, and radiography systems.
Step Two: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years)
A bachelor’s degree in biomedical technology prepares applicants to work as innovators in the medical repair industry. Courses in a bachelor’s degree program might include technological calculus, technology for special patients, technology writing, biological chemistry, and project planning.
Step Three: Work in the Field (One Year or More)
Some employers require professional experience, so working in the field improves an aspiring BMET tech’s candidacy. Work experience is also a requirement for certification.
Step Four: Get Certified (Timeline Varies)
While certification is not a requirement, it may help BMET professionals gain access to better opportunities. A number of associations offer certifications for this career, such as the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) offered through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. In order to get certified, biomedical technicians must have an associate degree, work experience, and pass an exam.
What Do Biomedical Equipment Technicians Do?
Biomedical equipment technicians are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining patient care equipment. They typically do the following:
- Repair a wide range of electromechanical, hydraulic, and electronic equipment that are used in hospitals and other health facilities
- Diagnose and correct equipment and system malfunctions
- Solve customer issues and complaints
- Log new devices into computer inventory database
- Participate in evaluation programs for devices before purchasing them
- Assist in identifying and recommending replacement of equipment
- Demonstrate how to operate biomedical equipment to nurses and physicians
- Keep a record of repairs and maintenance
- Review technical manuals and attend training sessions
- Perform preventive maintenance and service
- Work with defibrillators, anesthesia machines, patient monitors, ventilators, and other life-support equipment
Biomedical Equipment Technician Certifications & Licensure
Biomedical technology is a dynamic field, as new devices are constantly being invented and used. Thus, it’s important for a biomedical equipment technician to keep pace with the changes, acquire training from time to time, and continue their education. This can be done by attending industry conferences, doing research, and pursuing certification exams.
Certification does not just help keep knowledge current, it also makes job applicants more desirable candidates. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) provides certification to biomedical equipment technicians if they meet certain education requirements and have relevant experience.
In addition to the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) certification, the AAMI Institute offers the following certifications for biomedical technicians:
- Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLEB)
- Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES)
To earn these credentials, individuals are required to earn an associate degree or complete training in the armed forces and have two to three years of work experience. Candidates also have to pass an exam.
How Much Do Biomedical Equipment Technicians Make?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for biomedical equipment technicians was $49,210 as of May 2018. The BLS states that the lowest 10 percent of BMET professionals earned less than $29,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,970. The number of jobs in the field was 53,800 in 2018.
Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).